December 14, 2018
Thailand is once again under the spotlight for extraditing dissidents and refugees.
With the world’s eye on the ongoing saga surrounding the Bangkok arrest and possible extradition of Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, the Southeast Asian country followed through on another, politically-tinged extradition.
On Wednesday, Thailand sent back to Cambodia a labor activist sought by authorities for the role he played in the production of a recently released documentary about sex trafficking. The government of Cambodia claims the documentary, produced by RT titled “My Mother Sold Me,” contained falsehoods and coerced statements and served to “seriously [damage] the Kingdom’s honor.”
Rath Rott Mony, 47, president of the Cambodian Construction Workers Trade Union, who assisted in the making of the documentary, was arrested in Bangkok late last week and is in the process of being handed over to Cambodian authorities for questioning.
“Thai authorities have cooperated with us and arrested the individual. They have detained [the suspect] for several days, and they will send him to us soon,” Deputy National Police Chief Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoen told The Phnom Penh Post.
According to Human Rights Watch, there are strong reasons to believe that Mony faces “politically motivated prosecution, wrongful detention, and ill-treatment in Cambodia.”
This isn’t the first time Thailand has completed a questionable extradition of a Cambodian activist. The two countries have a history of exchanging political dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists and more.
In February of this year, for example, Thailand deported Sam Sokha who was wanted by Cambodian authorities for throwing shoes at a ruling party billboard bearing the image of Prime Minister Hun Sen. The charges against her carried a combined sentence of over three years.
At the time of her extradition, Sokha was recognized by the United Nations as a refugee.
As for Mony, Human Rights Watch condemned his deportation from Thailand.
Thailand should not do Cambodia’s bidding by forcibly returning an outspoken activist who exposed police failures to stop abuses and child sex trafficking,” said Brad Adams, Asia director in a statement.
“Thai authorities should immediately release Rath Rott Mony and allow him to seek protection from the United Nations refugee agency,” Adams added.